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Garden Wagon Brings Agriculture to Eastern Cherokee Indians

Volunteer George Welch unloads Garden Wagon plants.

Volunteer George Welch unloads Garden Wagon plants.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

When members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians can’t make it to their local extension office, their extension office comes to them—with a gift of better health through home gardening. Read more »

Turning Floodplains from Unproductive Farmland into Restored Wetlands

Ron Farris, landowner, and NRCS employee Danette Cross look over his conservation plan.

Ron Farris, landowner, and NRCS employee Danette Cross look over his conservation plan.

In southern Illinois, along the Mississippi River, you can see a diverse landscape of woodlands, open wild areas and farmland. But that wasn’t the case about 20 years ago, after the Great Flood of 1993 ravaged the area. That summer, all of these ecosystems resembled a moonscape with most of the vegetation removed. Read more »

Organic 101: Organic Wine

This is the ninth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

According to a 2011 survey by the Organic Trade Association, organic beverages made up about 12% of total organic food sales growth. Organic wine contributed to that growth, matching pace with conventional wine purchases. So what is organic wine?

As with other USDA organic products, organic wine is made without using prohibited substances or genetic engineering (see Allowed and Prohibited Substances). It undergoes the same rigorous requirements of USDA organic certification as other products throughout its lifecycle (see Five Steps to Organic Certification). And, in addition to being overseen by the USDA National Organic Program, it has to meet the requirements of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, especially for sulfite labeling requirements. Read more »

Protecting and Providing

Javier Mancha, right, visits with NRCS District Conservationist Serafin Aguirre about pasture conditions and grazing plans for his cattle.

Javier Mancha, right, visits with NRCS District Conservationist Serafin Aguirre about pasture conditions and grazing plans for his cattle.

For 40 years, Vietnam veteran Javier Mancha has developed his Maverick County, Tex. land by hand, and relied on USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help incorporate conservation practices into his operation.

Mancha’s Rosita Valley farm is known locally for growing some of the hottest peppers and sweetest melons around, and over the years, has grown and sold enough produce to put four daughters through college. Read more »

A New Gateway for Canadian Consumers to U.S. Foods

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Ottawa, through its food and beverage alliance, tasteUS!, recently launched a new website that provides Canadians with information on top quality U.S.-grown food and the more than 40 U.S. cooperators whose products are found in grocery stores across Canada.

“Our tasteUS! website is a great tool for Canadians in helping them understand the agricultural goods imported from the U.S. that are available to them. We’re promoting a ‘buy regionally’ approach that can bring down grocery costs – especially in the winter months when Canadian produce is scarcer,” said Scott Reynolds, FAS Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

Found at, the website has detailed information on tasteUS! affiliated cooperators, relevant news articles, facts on nutrition and recipes provided by the cooperators. It allows Canadians to educate themselves about the food and beverages imported into Canada from the United States – from fresh fruit like apples, pears and peaches, to vegetables such as tomatoes, to wine, beer and fruit juices – and the producers behind it all. Some of the cooperators represent commodities not grown in Canada, such as papaya and catfish. Access to these types of foods gives Canadians even more options to support their healthy food choices. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Looking Ahead to 2013

In recent days, Congressional leaders came together with an agreement to provide middle class tax relief and extend protection for two million unemployed Americans.

This agreement provides some relief for all of us who are frustrated with the gridlock that often dominates Washington. It is also good news for the 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses who were protected from a tax increase.

At the same time, I am disappointed that Congress was unable to pass a multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Congress did extend some 2008 Farm Bill programs that will prevent a spike in the price of dairy and other commodities. However, the extension fails to provide any of the long-term certainty that we know is vital for rural America. Read more »